The concept of relevance in media was once seen as a promising opportunity, but it has turned into a double-edged sword.
While it holds value, taking it to the extreme can result in detrimental consequences such as echo chambers, filter bubbles, and extreme partisanship.
What was once considered a valuable asset has now transformed into something unsightly.
Remember when we first realized we could measure actions in media? It all began with the invention of the clickable banner in October 1994. This breakthrough allowed us to track the effectiveness of our media investments and determine their impact.
Fast forward to today, where we allocate nearly 75% of our advertising budgets to lower-funnel tactics, often at the expense of long-term brand-building strategies.
We thought we had solved the problem of not knowing which half of our advertising was wasted, thanks to the ability to measure.
However, with 40% of online traffic being fake, accurate measurement remains a significant challenge. We have ended up trading the surprise and delight of imaginative brand-building creative for fake traffic.
Engagement was once hailed as the ultimate metric, with the promise of dethroning the click-through rate as the king of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
However, the relentless pursuit of engagement has led to the optimization of sensationalism, fueled by hate. Today, we find ourselves in a divided landscape, with a Blue country and a Red country seemingly unable to find common ground.
Undeniably, relevance, engagement, and measurability are crucial goals in the media industry. However, when taken to the extreme, they have created a mess.
The pursuit of profit has often driven this extremism, as it tends to do.
Fixing these problems will not be easy, and perhaps even impossible, but there is hope to be found in the power of connection and the enthusiasm of individuals who aspire to create positive change in the world.
In the past year, I have personally experienced the power of connection through active engagement with people in networking activities. I have joined Meetups and attended events on Eventbrite.
I have participated in Bitcoin Meetups, local Chamber of Commerce gatherings, and crypto potluck dinners in Miami, and joined a shared workspace that supports founders and inventors.
I have even volunteered to greet attendees at Andrew Yeung's NYC tech mixers and joined DAO hackathons.
In just a year, I have met countless individuals with diverse ideas and witnessed their unwavering enthusiasm for shaping a better future.
I have seen firsthand the power of imagination and creativity that only comes from real-life interactions.
Through these experiences, I have come to realize that the future of media does not solely lie in dominant digital platforms -- but in the grassroots connections that form when people come together in real life around ideas.
Since the early 1990s, media has swung toward digital dominance, virtual interactions, microtargeting, and filter bubbles. As a result, the media has left us feeling isolated and alone.
When you autofill a Google search for "Instagram makes me feel" you get "bad, ugly, and insecure." Isn't that incredibly sad?
However, I am encouraged to see the pendulum swinging back toward real-life, grassroots, and community-oriented interactions.
If I were managing a brand today, I would question how much of my marketing budget is allocated to experiential, real-life, and community-driven initiatives. If the answer is not at least half, then there may be a problem -- as a significant portion of the digital budget is being spent on fake traffic.
While relevance, engagement, and measurability have their merits, their extreme pursuit has led to negative consequences in the media industry.
By embracing real-life connections, grassroots movements, and community-driven initiatives, we can potentially shift toward a more balanced and positive approach to media.
Let us strive to create a future where meaningful connections and genuine interactions take precedence over virtual metrics and filter bubbles.
That's the kind of media landscape I'm excited about!